Brandi working with our zen small dog park group

                                  Brandi working with our zen small dog park group

When training your dog and working on correct behaviors, it's always the best to ignore undesirable actions when possible.  Now we are not saying to ignore your dog if they are standing on the kitchen table getting ready to take a bite of your dinner, however there are plenty of situations where ignoring the dogs behavior is the best training plan.

To know when ignoring your dog is useful you need to understand how your pup's mind works; dogs will do what's rewarding to them.  By ignoring the incorrect behavior consistently the wrong actions will start to go away because there is no reward.  Then when you do reward your dog for completing the correct behavior, the right actions will continue to increase.Your dog through repetition will begin to understand what behaviors are rewarding, and start discarding the undesirable actions that have no pay off.

Ignoring your dog's behavior will only work if there's no reward involved.  Back to our example, it's definitely not best to ignore your dog if he's standing on the kitchen table eating your dinner, that's a big reward! 

This is the trickiest part for majority of people, they don't know what is rewarding for their pup. Eye contact, is a huge reward for a dog that jumps on you. If you think you are ignoring your dog, but you are looking down on him, this is actually approving the jumping because your dog received the wanted attention he craves.

Identify the Rewards

The first thing you need to do is figure out what your dog values. This generally is not very difficult as most dogs desire the same things. Attention, positive or negative, especially for puppies, is identified as a big reward.  If your dog jumps up on you and you yell, "Off!" you have just rewarded your dog's behavior. The best thing to do is ignore the jumping and wait for your dog to stay on all fours on the ground, then you can reward him with your attention.

If your pup goes crazy when you come in the house, ignore him until he's calm. We know this can be difficult as you've missed your dog all day, and want to greet them jut as much as they do. While this is hard to do in the moment, your ignoring the undesirable behavior will be a reward for both your dog and yourself when he greets you at the door without jumping on you. Gradually you will be able to immediately give your pup the affection they have been craving all day, and when guests come to the house you have a calm zen dog greeting them. 

Remember behavior is all about repetitions, the longer your dog has been doing something, the longer it will take to shape a new behavior. By both of your putting in the time and work, each repetition of ignoring the undesirable behavior, and rewarding the correct ones, you will be on the path to a world full of zen, (at least with your pup.) Happy zen training!